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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars

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on 5 August 2017
Great book. Well written, enough depth to be interesting and enough originality to never be dull even to a veteran fantasy reader. I will be reading the next one.
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on 27 May 2013
Caine was an assassin. He was also sent from our world and watched as popular culture for Earth's entertainment. He got the girl, but he lost a lot. That's where the book begins, sort of with the concept of 'no such thing as happy endings' in real life...

Ok, so remember when you were young and books struck you like they were real? Your favorite characters in stories mattered, and weren't just the latest thing you were interested in? That's Blade of Tyshalle. The characters come alive, you'll be so angry, and immersed, and totally rooting for them from start to finish. This is a book you can read when you're feeling down and will utterly sustain you, one with an extremely gritty and dark voice that will drive and drive no matter how desperate things get. Story is amazing...

It's also an ambitious step up from Heroes Die in some ways, whereas the former was concerned with playing on perceptions of violence and popular culture and did so masterfully, this one is downright philosophical, playing on sci-fi and fantasy tropes but getting at a core around impression management and identity. What it means to be a person that wears a mask. The relationship between pretending to be a monster and being one for real. That's heavy duty stuff and it's one hundred percent delivered. The book is utterly amazing.
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on 7 November 2015
I loved the first book... It took a bit of getting used to what with this SciFi v. Fantasy mashup but what a story and what characters! Caine was an anti-hero the likes of which I've not read since being introduced to The Bloody Nine!

But the second book... Meh!

Too long and almost unnecessarily complicated. Don't get me wrong I appreciate a book with depth but it needs to hang together properly.

Everything I liked about the first book was missing and instead replaced with theological, metaphysical or psychological arguments and I'm not sure what they added.

Did it teach me more about Caine or any of the other characters? Not really, only because it introduced a concept and never really followed it through.

It was an epic book but I've lost interest now. A shame as the Caine character was phenomenal!
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The second title in the series and one that goes to show that Caine is in for not only a world of hurt but one that will have him ducking and diving, utilising all his hard earned skills to aid his survival. As with the first the characters are stunning, the pose sharp and all round with the story arc was something that I just couldn't put down.

Add to this almost magical storytelling, some great twists and an author who knows how to hook the reader not only with the stunning set up but emotionally into the character all round makes this a must read for me as a fantasy fan. Great stuff.
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on 4 September 2013
I usually enjoy science fiction and similarly many types of fantasy books but I just could not get into this. Convoluted and over the top on all counts.
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on 24 August 2013
Well written epic conclusion to the story. A brave look at what happens to your hero after the story ends, and it aint all pretty. A slight hint of inevetibability but worth it all the same, at times a bit confusing and uses convenient plot devices though.
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on 21 August 2015
I'm struggling. This is the second Caine book I have have in quick succession, and I have to admit. I don't get it. The author seems have a set formula, and is loathe to digress from it. Not terrible by any means, but difficult to recommend.
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on 21 October 2013
The whole series is like a POV action game, but enjoyable for all that. I like the main character but found the 'supporting cast' a bit on the thin side. I will probably read more of this series but not right away.
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on 1 January 2014
Second book in the series. While taking a slightly different direction than heroes die,this book in my view is just as good. Loved reading it and loving the series. Well done
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Seven years ago, the warrior-assassin Caine - played by Actor Hari Michaelson - saved his lover Pallas Rill and became a hero on Earth and infamous on Overworld. In that final battle Michaelson was severely wounded and can now only walk intermittently, with technological help. When Michaelson discovers that a devastating virus has been unleashed on Overworld from Earth, he immediately intervenes to stop it...and unleashes a terror upon both worlds in the process.

Blade of Tyshalle is the second volume of The Acts of Caine series (four books so far) and is a quite startling deviation from its predecessor, Heroes Die. Whilst Heroes Die was an intelligent, smart SF/fantasy hybrid novel with lots of action, Blade of Tyshalle is an outright philosophical assault on the senses. This is a murkier, more violent and darker book than its predecessor, but also one that is more demanding, smarter and less interested in spelling things out. It is, on almost every front, a step-up from the first book in the series.

In terms of characterisation, the book is highly impressive. Michaelson/Caine himself is a deceptively straightforward figure. When he has an objective, he does whatever is necessary to achieve it. When he has everything he wants - a family, a great job, fame and fortune - he is utterly miserable. When the world sets itself against him (or, in this case, two worlds and almost everyone on them), he shines. When he has the freedom to forge his own destiny, he flounders. It's the classic mid-life crisis narrative, made even harsher by the fact that Michaelson is partially crippled. There's something inherently tragic in the fact that Michaelson's closest friend is also his deadliest enemy, the exiled Emperor Ma'elKoth. Caine is against the odds but also certain to win through because that is the task he sets himself. Some reviews have taken this to mean the book is pro-fascist (The Triumph of the Will could be the title of Caine's biography) but Stover undercuts this by showing that Caine cannot achieve his goals without him relying on his friends and allies (and some of his old enemies).

The book is unusual in that the first-person narration parts of the book are split between Caine and his old friend Kris. The book opens with a tantalising glimpse at Michaelson's youth as he first enters training as an Actor and Kris is assigned to stop him flunking out. The experience changes Kris forever, leading to a fateful decision and a reunion many years later in the main narrative of the book. The rest of the cast is a mixture of returning characters from Heroes Die (such as Shanna, Ma'elKoth, Kierandal and Majesty) and newcomers such as Raithe, a Monastic citizen who harbours an old grudge against Caine. Stover juggles them all with skill.

In terms of the antagonist, Stover does something very interesting by making it more of a force of nature and philosophy than an actual villain (though it is personified when it possesses the body of an old enemy of Caine's). This leads to the book's most stomach-churning sections as this force for evil kills and slaughters on a scale that is quite shocking. The book also muses on the theme of rape, not of the body (though this is implied in several moments), but of the mind. The destruction of consciousness, the stripping of identity and the nature of self are all dwelt on as concepts.

Stover pulls back from these philosophical moments - though the book remains intelligent and sharp-witted throughout - to deliver a finale which may redefine the term 'apocalyptic'. The final 200 pages of the book feels like experiencing the Vietnam War on fast-forwards. It's relentless, grim and action-packed. It probably goes on a little too long - at 725 pages of small print in tradeback the novel is substantially longer than Heroes Die - and there's a few too many endings as Stover tries to wrap things up fairly conclusively, but ultimately it's an ending to be remembered.

Blade of Tyshalle (*****) is a vastly more ambitious book than its predecessor which pulls off what it's trying to do. Action, philosophy and characterisation are blended to create what may be one of the outstanding examples of the fantasy genre in the last decade. Blade of Tyshalle is available now in the USA and as an e-book only edition in the UK.
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